I read nearly 2000 comments during the game on Bulldawg Illustrated’s gameday live thread, and the consensus was much the same as most fans watching the performance – line play on both sides of the ball was terrible.
There is a problem with that analysis, however. JT Daniels would not have finished 28 of 38 for 401 yards and four TDs behind a line that was playing terribly. Mississippi State played man coverage most of the night and brought the house. Five offensive linemen cannot block seven or eight rushers. MSU’s tactics did not disrupt the Dawgs passing game, but those blitzes did a number on the run game. Outnumbered offensive linemen will not open holes for running backs consistently, and the run game’s poor results reflected that fact.
On the defensive side, Georgia played most of the night with three down linemen. Although the Dawgs brought some pressure in the second half, Coach Smart said that he intentionally limited the pass rush to have more bodies in coverage in his postgame press conference. The rationale is that Coach Leach’s quarterbacks get the ball out so quickly that playing pass defense made more sense than disrupting the passer with blitzes.
Let’s face it, Georgia’s defense looked dazed and confused for most of the night. I’m just not sure that the defensive line was the source of the problem. Of course, not having Jordan Davis and Julian Rochester hurt, but the guys who stepped into their shoes did well. We didn’t see them getting blown off the ball, but a three-man rush will never beat an SEC offensive line and get pressure on a quarterback.
The big takeaway from Saturday night is that Georgia has found a quarterback. It is impressive how much difference there was in the team’s offensive performance week over week. A student of the game with a live arm torched Mississippi State for over 400 yards in his first game since August of 2019, and there is no reason to doubt that he will get better going forward.
Even though Daniels’ debut gives fans a lift and something positive to talk about, Dan Lanning’s crew has to get its issues in pass defense fixed – fast. Next week has to be about working on the defense overall and pass coverage specifically.
Yes, there are issues to resolve, but it sure was nice to see a real-live offense – and the black jerseys looked great too.